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Played by sequencers & drum machines, was insanely out of time - but still a hit?
Old 16th May 2006
  #1
Played by sequencers & drum machines, was insanely out of time - but still a hit?

There is ia very catchy - and basic all programmed soul hit all over UK radio, by Gnarls Barkley - the song is called "Crazy" ..

I SWEAR the bass is WAY early (or the kick...something is totally whack) - like a midi hell timing error..

BUT......

... It makes tha damn song more catchy..

Drives me nuts when I hear it though...

Anyone else spotted that?

Its almost an 80's midi timing error retro production trick! Uber clever..

Can anyone point to glaringly OBVIOUS midi timing errors on past hits?

Wheel em out - what was played by sequencers & drum machines, was insanely out of time - but still a hit?
Old 16th May 2006
  #2
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seaneldon's Avatar
 

the first two streets albums had awful timing on purpose, as if to accent the fact that the dude doesn't give a **** about rapping in rhythm either. really really funny. the new album is awful though.
Old 16th May 2006
  #3
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...

agreed. the old streets is killer. the new streets kills me.
Old 16th May 2006
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules

Drives me nuts when I hear it though...

Anyone else spotted that?
Yup, I spotted it too and it bugs me. I think they're trying to pretend that the bass has been played live, and maybe it was for like 8 bars, then its been looped.

The problem is of course that the beat is quantized, and in my opinion once the beat is quantized, anything that is not quantized sticks out and sounds wrong. But then when you quantize your bass line and it hits at the same time as the kick, you have to lower the volume of them both or compress it to ****, or do what they've done which is to shift the bass notes apart from the kick just enough to hear the attack of each. I don't think its a solution - but I rarely write basslines that hit at the same time as the kick. If the drums had been played live of course, then they could have played everything else live and it would have gelled together.

I'm not too keen on the tune itself but I've found it gets stuck in my head quite often. I quite like the exagerated swing though.
Old 16th May 2006
  #5
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Not a hit per se, but on the last D'Angelo album there was this tune called The Line wich was sooooo unquantised in a disturbing way!
Old 16th May 2006
  #6
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I love the timing, kind of like when claps start early on a beat, gives it a groove. The grid is too boring. Makes it sould older. That song has some amazing production...
-Brian
Old 16th May 2006
  #7
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I heard this track for the first time over the weekend and was blown away. I agree with Brian, the off-beat elements seem to drive the track a little.
Old 16th May 2006
  #8
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Relax's Avatar
 

Here's an interesting quote from the producer (same guy that did the last Gorillaz album). source: http://remixmag.com/mag/remix_looney_tunes/index.html

Quote:
Danger Mouse is a firm believer that techniques and ideas are what make for quality tracks, not gear. “I don't want anybody thinking you have to have any one thing when you can use anything and make it good,” he says. You've heard it before, but it's not DM's excuse to avoid revealing his studio setup to the biters out there. “When I was younger, I would hear, ‘So-and-so had this piece. If I just had this one piece of equipment, all my **** would be better,’” DM says. “I put off [projects] here and there so that I could save up and get this gear. I spent thousands of dollars on stuff still sitting here, and I don't even know how to use it. It's just ********. So that's why I try not to go too into depth about the details of my setup. But I can definitely say it's cheap. It's not expensive equipment at all.”

However, Danger Mouse will say that a couple of his favorite keyboards of the moment are a Korg MS-2000 and a Roland Saturn 09. “Money Mark [who plays on Dangerdoom] has been getting me more into a lot of stuff keyboardwise,” he says. As for software, DM has used Digidesign Pro Tools and Apple Logic in other people's studios, but he prefers Sony Acid Pro at home. “I used to use old samplers and a lot of old drum machines and samplers, and then I made a switch years back,” DM says. “I basically use that program now in the same way I used those.”

Although DM buys a new PC every year, it's not to increase his processing power. “I use very basic PCs,” he says. “I don't have any special soundcards or anything. The reason I get a new one every year is because there always winds up being some ****ed-up virus or some kind of crash, or something ends up broken on it, so I wind up getting a new one all the time.”
Old 16th May 2006
  #9
Nice little Dangermouse bit... I like his attitude.

I wouldn't let him on my tech staff, though... heh



Wasn't familiar with the track... couldn't find in on my subscription service but I did manage to track down the right spelling: Gnarls Barkley. Here's their website:

http://www.gnarlsbarkley.com/


Ah... and from there I went to their myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/gnarlsbarkley, where you can play the track 'on demand.'

It sounded like a TOTAL TRAINWRECK ... UNTIL I realized both the autoplay from their website AND the autoplay from their Myspace page were going at once... heh heh heh The track doesn't do much of anything for me -- but it DEFINITELY sounds better one copy at a time. heh

I certainly see what y'all are saying about the bass and kick.

From my experience playing bass in bands, it is my inclination to 'cover' kick drum beats with bass notes. I often think of them as a unit. And when I listen to my favorite R&B, funk and soul, from over the years, much of it seems to follow that. But rules are made to be broken.

I've listened to this track about 3 times now and I have to say the more I hear it the more I don't care for it. The bass, in particular seems dorky, aside from the flamminess vis a vis the kick. The sample/tone sounds like "my first MIDI program" stuff... which is, of course, probably some kind of post-modern hipster approach but in a few years I think it's gonna sound as clueless as all those syndrums everyone used to use in the late 70s...

Old 16th May 2006
  #10
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In the late 80’s I had an Ensoniq EPS triggering an Amiga (running Bars & Pipes Pro), an Alesis D4, some sort of JL Cooper sync box (for my good ‘ol Tascam 308), a microverb 2 and a Roland D50….. all daisy chained.

…Thanks to numerous and frequent MIDI timing problems & glitches, THAT setup produced a lot of hits…

… to the keyboard…

… with my fists…


Aaah those were the days (NOT!)

Oger.
Old 16th May 2006
  #11
I think it's a common misconception that bass HAS to be behind the beat. In fact, I've gotten amazing results telling the player to play on top, especially for sections that are just supposed to drive. I hate it when people default to pasting their bass notes just behind the kick hits in protools without even really listening. I'd rather hear a broken sounding bassline that has feel than that uber quantized, just behind the beat thing any day of the week. If you want to hear real real cool unquantized/ broken stuff listen to J Dilla and Madlib. Very intentionally and artfully done... as is "Crazy".
Old 16th May 2006
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1
The bass, in particular seems dorky, aside from the flamminess vis a vis the kick. The sample/tone sounds like "my first MIDI program" stuff... which is, of course, probably some kind of post-modern hipster approach
heh

Diggin this thread! Thanks everyone!

Dont get me wrong - hats off to the producer!

CRAZY!
Old 16th May 2006
  #13
How about "What About Us" by Brandy, produced by Rodney Jerkins. This was a hit, and man, that timing is OFF. In a very cool way. Errr... not that I listen to Brandy or anything... that would really mess up my street cred.
Old 16th May 2006
  #14
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I like the version that they did on Top of the Pops:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=wcOabajz8...y%20top%20pops

I imagine it was pre-recorded, but it's still pretty different from the record. Plus, the costumes are sweet.
Old 17th May 2006
  #15
MDM
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without that wobble in that tekky bass-sound, (sounding almost like a tuned down muted-guitar to my ears) this track would have no character whatsoever

attitude too the max

it does make you go like Huh? wotwozzat?
(think Goofy)

Some Tibetan artists create perfect wooden sculpture - When their arduous work has been finished to perfection, they'll scratch a mark somewhere on the piece - so it's not perfect anymore -- then, it's really finished ...

Do you think we should ask them if they did it on purpose, or if they were just so whacked out of their brains with I dont know what that they didn't notice ?
Old 17th May 2006
  #16
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Have you guys listened to a lot of newer underground hi-hop, Dilla (R.I.P.), etc? Sometimes the **** sounds totally messed up and it's on purpose. I've heard Dilla being referred to as the innovator behind the "early snare" sound in lots of hip-hop/R&B.

Check out one of my faves, Owusu & Hannibal, on MySpace..."Delirium" in particular sounds like an MMT-8 crash on every note! Kind of hot once you get your head around it.
Old 17th May 2006
  #17
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Prickstein's Avatar
 

Am I the only one that hears a very out of tune note on the bass in the riff to "Flashdance" by Deep dish? It repeats over and over throughout almost the whole tune and if I hear it in a club, it really bugs me.
Old 17th May 2006
  #18
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Most of these folks are right, and the "off" timing is pretty common, especially coming from a hip-hop producer. And Yeloocproducer really should know... he mastered Danger Mouse's "Grey Album".

What makes this song a hit, though, is the fact that Cee-Lo can actually sing, unlike most "singers" in all the popular genres. Oh, and he can rap, too.
Old 17th May 2006
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdbeh
I like the version that they did on Top of the Pops:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=wcOabajz8...y%20top%20pops

I imagine it was pre-recorded, but it's still pretty different from the record. Plus, the costumes are sweet.
Brilliant!

Thanks for that!

The reason for it would be unions - the musicians union in the UK is hard on US acts.. They would have FORCED him to re record it here or to sing live - he did a great job
Old 17th May 2006
  #20
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Alex Niedt's Avatar
 

I don't find the Gnarls Barkley track odd at all. After peoples' comments here, I expected something totally different. It's certainly not INSANELY out-of-time.

For something more noticeable, listen to Pharrell's production for Mariah Carey's "Say Somethin'". He nudges the syncopated hi-hat off quite a bit and it totally grooves like no other. At first I thought it sounded kinda bad (probably because I heard it in between way quantized tracks on the radio), but now that I've heard it a bunch of times, I'm totally into it.
Old 17th May 2006
  #21
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tomdarude's Avatar
great thread!!!! keep it coming....totally underrated topic imho. in urban music!!

....makes me wanna get a semi-acoustic bass w/ flatwounds & a distressor asap,
can´t stand fat synth basses anymore at the moment anyway



tom
Old 17th May 2006
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blast9
Not a hit per se, but on the last D'Angelo album there was this tune called The Line wich was sooooo unquantised in a disturbing way!
Love that tune; and also "One Mo'gin" (Track 7) on the same album. He really is pushing the boundarys of how funky something can be.

Anyone interseted in truely funky swinging beats has to listen to Floetic by Floetry - the hats are quantised normally as you'd expect on 1,3,5,7,9,11,13 & 15, and at first you think the kick is just playing on 1 and 9, with the snare on 5 and 13, but they're not, they're very slightly early, which creates the tightest swing I've ever heard. Of course, the whole track is quantised, because it would be impossible to hold that groove live.

But with regards to Gnarls' tune, I don't think that the reason he shifted the bass notes early was to create swing, but to give a 'live vibe.'
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